March 30, 2008
Tomato and Chilli Sauce: Sweet Heat!
Tomato (lycopersicon esculentum) is a versatile vegetable. They are used in salad, condiments, or are preserved in the form of chutney, concentrate, sauce or ketchup.
The sun loves tomatoes, and since it can be easily grown, it seems that every household in this countryside grows tomatoes in the backyards.
We always grow tomatoes every year and devour them every Summer, mainly to use them in sandwiches, quiches, or preserve them. If we are lucky, we still can enjoy them through to Autumn.
I usually make jars of them which can be stored in 6-9 months. I don't really have any special trick to keep them that long, perhaps the vinegar does. I do not use preservatives whatsoever, it is against my principle in my natural home cooking. However, home-made tomato sauce gives a better flavour for the base of home-made pizza. Meatballs in tomato sauce are superb cooked with pasta.
I love to give my family different options, so I play around with the flavour. It is just a trial and error, see which flavour they love the best. Sometimes I use chilies, other times I omit them to make a more concentrated tomato sauces. Some times I choose to use coriander seeds, some other times I use allspice. I sometimes forget to put ginger in but more basil takes the place. So, it is the matter of playing with flavour, you can't go wrong. The more generous you add spices or herbs, the more flavour you will get.
I don't target my homemade tomatoes to be like Heinz's of Wattie's because it still is different. One thing you can add as a plus is you get a fresh flavour from fresh ingredients, and they are not coming from a factory! And you should be proud of it.
I like to give bit more spices to compliment the acidity and gives the flavour a lift. HOT as it can be, but it is as well EXOTIC! However, you can always reduce the spices to suit your taste.
I'm sending this as an entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Ramona this week!
Arfi's Home-made Tomato and Chilli Sauce
5 kg firm acid tomatoes (either red, yellow, or green), washed and halved (or quartered when you use bigger ones),
4 tart apples (I add tart apples to add acidity in the sauce but if you use acid tomatoes, you do not need to add these)
4 onions, cut into chunks,
4 cloves garlic,
approximately 250g to 500g brown sugar or palm sugar (I suggest you to taste your tomatoes first before adding sugar, because some tomatoes are sweeter than the others),
4 bird's eye chilli, seeded and minced,
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper,
1 tsp ground paprika,
1 - 1 1/2 tsp allspice,
2 cm ginger root, peeled and chopped
1 tsp freshly cracked black peppercorns,
1 handful fresh basil leaves
1 ½ cups malt vinegar (add more if you use sweet tomatoes),
salt to taste,
1 Tbs corn flour dissolved in ½ Tbs water
a splash of olive oil
Heat the oil on the bottom of a preserving pan, toast the onion, garlic, ginger, and chillies until fragrant. Quickly add in all the ground spices, sauteed for a minute and then add in all the tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes are soft and the mixture is reduced to half.
Remove from the stove and cool down a bit, so you can process this mixture in a blender or food processor. Blend all with fresh basil leaves until soft. Run into a sieve or cheese cloth. Now, you will have a smooth mixture of tomato sauce. Put it back into the preserving pan, cook on a medium heat, add in vinegar and sugar. Season with salt, correct the seasoning as necessary.
Simmer on a low heat until boiling. Add the cornflour mixture and cook another 10 minutes to thicken. Pour immediately into the prepared sterilized jars or bottles. Sealed and marked. Makes 5-8 jars, various sizes.